What according to you is the idea of good design? Is it a static or a dynamic subject in the realm of architecture?
It’s an endless question. But in essence, it is the match of the client brief and expectations with the richness of the Genius Loci (under all its aspects from history to climate and nature), fed with the designer’s conceptual tools. It is therefore important for the designer to be in a learning mood permanently. I use to say that my style may be summarised by “Why?” .
What led to the inception of Samyn and Partners and how has the journey been so far?
Samyn and Partners is an integrated team of architects and engineers busy with global design from landscape to furniture tackling all technical aspects (structure, services and building physics). It all started in 1977, the team being incorporated in 1980, designing anything: from a petrol station to a museum, from research centre to a private house, from very small to very big. Our approach has attracted outstanding clients all being very open minded and ready for unusual answers.
What according to you are some of the new age materials and technologies which are redefining the face of architecture in this millennium?
We are indeed in a fascinated period, a digital era, where the 3D modelling flirts with the pencil sketch on paper, the 3D printed model with its clay and paper initiation, the crass screwdriver with the handy tool, but before everything, our awareness of the fined size of the planet. As I believe the universal unitary money should be the “Joule”, the cost of a building reflects after all its embodied energy. So, I’m obsessed by economic buildings.
How does your design approach differ when you are working on living or commercial spaces versus when you are executing a civic or an industrial project?
Every construction is made for human being, the space for the welder in the factory is as important as the one in your private kitchen. So, I do not make any difference designing a factory or a family house.
In a world where construction and building techniques are constantly getting upgraded, is it the same with architecture, how does an architect keep himself abreast of these developments?
While updates are a daily duty as well as the integration of the new scientific discoveries and technological inventions, our thoughts are still to be framed by a permanent theoretical approach. “De architectura” from Vitruvius is still the base.
If there is one thing you want to change about how architecture and design is perceived in this millennium, what would it be, and why would you desire to change it?
I love to be peaceful rebel, questioning every issue. If something is usually white, I think why not black? Lateral thinking is fundamental.
Is there any Indian project you have come across which you feel was thoughtfully built? In their any Indian architect whose body of work you adore?
I discovered India in 1986. It was enchanting in the real meaning of the word. This two months trip in India has deeply influenced my way of thinking and looking at buildings. I love in particular the work of Bijoy Jain and Balkrishna Doshi with whom I share “The global award for sustainable architecture”. I have much empathy with their work. And, I would of course love to be invited to build something in India with a global immersion in its culture.
Who are the architects and designers you revere, the once you look up to as your idols?
My source of inspiration is the world around me. Remember that I’m a civil engineer self-trained as an architect. So they are many architects whose work I adore.
Dr Ir Philippe Samyn, Partner,
Samyn and Partners